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Banana River Lagoon No-motor Zone

The No-Motor Zone is a 35 square mile paddle fishing only area situated on the northern end of the Banana River Lagoon and the southeast side of the Kennedy Space Center between KSC and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.  Originally set aside as a manatee refuge the NMZ is only accessible by non-motorized vessels with the exception of security, law enforcement and research boats.  The NMZ is as pristine as Florida waters get and because of the lack of motorized vessels and the work required to fish it, and it is the best place in Central Florida to fine happy and stupid fish.  It’s a seven mile paddle from the boat launch sites to furthermost reaches of the Zone, but anglers are often rewarded for their additional effort.

NASA Causeway servers as the northern boundary of the Zone connected only by a relief cut and shipping channel serving the Kennedy Space Center.  Situated north of the NASA Causeway is the oldest Marine Protection Area (MPA) in the United States which was not set aside to protect marine life, but for the security of our national's space program. The MPA is a connected fishery that hasn’t seen anglers in over 50 years and a place where the fish and gators are full grown. Anglers are not permitted to touch land while fishing in the NMZ or pass under the NASA Causeway bridges. Both bridges are secured with inferred light beam alarms and violating these rules can warrant a Federal trespassing citation. There are several additional security sectors in the area of the NMZ marked by both signs and buoys and they are Buck Creek on the west shore and the Fuel Storage area located near the midpoint on the eastern shore of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.  The NMZ is also closed on occasion for launch activity and when national security levels are elevated. The southern boundary is clearly marked with warning signs crossing from KARS Park on the west shore to the high power lines on the east side.

There are two paddle craft launch sites open to the public, one on the east side and one on the west side.  The launch site on the east side is unimproved dirt or should I say muck pathway located on the outside of the perimeter fence of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station off of Phillips Parkway.  This is the preferred launch location when anglers are facing winds with an easterly fetch. At this this launch site, all cars and trucks most be parked off of the right of way of the Phillips Parkway, or they will be towed. It is also an unsecured site, so park at your own risk.  The second site is located at the southwestern corner of the NMZ at KARS Park.  Like all of the NMZ, KARS is owned by NASA and there is a five dollar launch fee, but the facilities are much nicer and very secure.  To find KARS Park, exit SR 528 at SR 3 and go north to Hall Road.  Take Hall Road east until it dead ends into KARS Park.

Lastly, the NMZ is situated in open water with a north south orientation, so fishing there is very venerable to windy conditions and is not recommended during periods with elevated winds, especially a southerly fetch.  In cases where wind conditions are not favorable, I have alternative protected backcountry locations to paddle fish or we can fish from my skiff in other locations.

My No-Motor Zone charters are limited to one angler, but additional paddle craft can be arrange to facilitate larger groups.  We target the same species of fish in the NMZ as we do on the other inshore saltwater flats, primarily redfish, black drum and sea trout with the only difference is in most cases we experience greater numbers and larger fish, especially larger redfish and black drum tailing on the flats during the winter months.  Fishing in the NMZ is a great charter for fly anglers looking for shots at happy fish simply due to the fact there are no motorized vessels disturbing their feeding or breading patterns. In addition, we will often get out of the boat and wade to tailing fish, so wading shoes are recommended along with waders during the colder months.  When fishing with me in the zone, I do most of the polling and paddling and you do all of the fishing.  Additionally, due to the amount of work requited to fish in the No-Motor Zone, full day charter rates apply.

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